This last weekend we were invited out to Six Flags Magic Mountain to check out this years Fright Fest. After the success of Scream Break earlier this year, we were very much anticipating this event and hoping that some of the operational changes made during Scream Break would carry over to Fright Fest.
Unfortunately with some delays in the two new mazes, and them keeping the previous 6 mazes we feared that perhaps they'd stretched themselves too thin again. We were pleasantly surprised that this wasn't the case, and that many of the existing mazes have received significant upgrades and updated storylines.
So let's head right in and have some spooky fun!
As far as returning mazes are concerned, Vault 666 has received yet another story change, and it's easily the best incarnation of this maze yet. If you'll remember, when the maze first started it was some kind of animal hybrid theme. The maze now features little resemblance in story to the original. So much so, we're shocked they haven't changed the name.
Let's check out some of the scare zones, which are, in our opinion, the best in the business.
There are two additional scare zones:
That's going to wrap it up for our review of Fright Fest 2023! We will definitely be back for more spooky fun before the end of the month.
Want more information on this years event? You can find all of the information here!
On Saturday, March 25th, I was invited out to Six Flags Magic Mountain to check out a brand-new after-hours event for this year: Scream Break. As the name implies, this event is a spring break haunt event, merging aspects of the two into what is best described as a monster-themed party. It’s a bit unusual in concept, but absolutely works, and led to one of the most fun evenings I’ve had at the park in quite some time.
Before the festivities began, we were invited to sample a few of devilish treats available during the event. On the menu was Monster Mac, a mac and cheese dish topped with your choice of Beef Brisket, BBQ Chicken, or Pulled Pork. As someone who generally finds fancy mac and cheese dishes to be overrated, I have to say that this one surprised me as it was really good. I tried both the brisket and chicken options, and while I preferred the latter since it seemed to blend a bit better, both were quite tasty. To drink, we were treated to the event’s signature beverage. Dubbed Spiked Skull on the Beach, it is a cocktail consisting of strawberry sprite topped with whipped cream, gummy worms, and cherries, and offered with or without a shot of soju. This was also really good, and came in a souvenir cup themed to the event.
Once we finished up with the refreshments, it was time to get the party started. For haunted attractions, Scream Break features two mazes and three scare zones. As we were released into Full Throttle Plaza, I decided to start things off with the mazes. Regulars who have attended Fright Fest will be familiar with Condemned and Vault 666, the two mazes in use for Scream Break, but both have been plussed up a bit for the event. The first, dubbed Vault 666: Initiation, is quite similar to its regular Fright Fest version, but has been given a few small tweaks. Despite its age, this remains one of the stronger mazes the park has done, and with the quality of talent it was probably the scariest thing at Scream Break. The other maze, Condemned: House Party, completely dispenses with the scary aspect of the maze’s traditional version and replaces it with a college party inside the decrepit house. Again, the talent in the maze sold the theme, making for an extremely fun maze that is enhanced even more by the crowd getting into the action.
The park’s three scare zones were spread along front section of the park. The first (I think it was called Frat Party, but I missed a sign confirming it) was in the maze area near Full Throttle Plaza, and kept up the party vibe found within Condemned. Second was Bloodborne Hollow, a graveyard-themed scare zone along the path past Bugs Bunny World. Lastly was the Grave Rave, centered around a DJ stage right at the entrance to DC Universe. All three had a decent amount of scaractors present, with a few stilt walkers and at least a half dozen other ghouls roaming around to interact with guests. Unlike Fright Fest, where everyone is out to get you, at this event two of the three zones were less about the fright and more about the fun, with monsters dancing alongside guests or trying to entice them into joining their shenanigans (Bloodborne Hollow is closer to a traditional scare zone). Like Fright Fest, however, the quality of actors at this park combined with them being given a fairly long leash makes these interactions a delight, and the scare zones were consistently the busiest areas of the park for the evening. I do wish a bit more of the event’s footprint was occupied by scare zones (would have loved to see something in the Screampunk District or DC Universe proper), but what they had was sufficient for the size of the event.
For those who want coasters, this park has you covered, with six of the park’s legendary thrill rides operating in the dark: Batman The Ride, Full Throttle, Goliath, Scream, Twisted Colossus, and Wonder Woman Flight of Courage. All six were open for the entire event on Saturday, all running at least two trains (Twisted Colossus and Wonder Woman had three), and as such wait times were minimal throughout the entire event. While coasters can be ridden any time of year, night rides with short waits make Scream Break worth attending even for those who may not care for the more traditional haunt aspects of the evening, and a majority of those selected do offer pretty good night rides.
I went in to Scream Break with fairly modest expectations, but the event ended up exceeding all of them. It’s not a huge event, but is a good size for the three-hour duration, and what it lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality. Many haunt-style events have at least one obvious weak point, but in my opinion every element of Scream Break was excellent and nothing felt like filler. This one is absolutely worth checking out, especially for Six Flags season passholders (who get free admission to Scream Break), but even for more general haunt fans who might not ordinarily venture up to the park (daytime admission is not required). I will say that those who are hardcore horror fans might find it a bit of a letdown if they need actual terror to be satisfied, as might those who don’t really care for the party atmosphere, but for most others it’s likely to provide a highly enjoyable evening. If Six Flags Magic Mountain can keep up this level of quality with their other seasonal events, they’re definitely going to be one to watch going forward.
For those venturing out to Scream Break, here are a few tips to maximize your time and enjoyment of the event:
Scream Break at Six Flags Magic Mountain runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through April 16th. Tickets are $39.99, or free for passholders on a space available basis. The event runs from park closing until midnight, with admission beginning at 7:30 P.M. each evening.
This past weekend we headed out to Six Flags Magic Mountain for the opening night of their all new Scream Break event. I'll be honest, we hadn't planned on going on opening weekend but they opened it up to a limited amount of passholders each night so we figured we'd go check it out. And we are glad we did!
I headed up with Gabe from Theme Park Duo to check out the event, but not before doing some update stuff first.
I also have some thoughts on how they can incorporate some of the amazing operational things they did for Scream Break into this years Fright Fest event. I outlined them in the video below, but if you "don't have time to watch a video" (actual comment from somebody who had been spending hours looking for info on the event) I'll share my thoughts here as well. You can see that at the bottom of this update.
So, how would I incorporate operational changes from scream break to fright fest?
Anybody who's visited Fright Fest knows that at least on a Saturday night the event can get overwhelmingly busy with families and teenagers with no supervision. I'll be honest, I've never encountered any major problems at the event other than annoying people who seem hell-bent on ruining everybody else's time with the shenanigans. But I know the talent, blackouts and security have a tough go of it some nights.
With Scream Break, they kind of did what I think is a test for the future of Fright Fest. And it worked!!
There were essentially three categories of guests at the event.
Basically, if you want to go with your Pass/Membership you need to get there early, but we don't think were all gone the night we went.
And this is what they need to do with Fright Fest. You need to have those three groups, and limit the event to a smaller number while doing a "soft closure" of the park.
So how do they do this?
Doing this gives you a smaller crowd, likely gives you more people buying a Fright Fest Ticket/Fright Fest pass than you have now, and makes the event that much more enjoyable.
In addition, as we've been saying for years, Fright Fest should have a similar footprint to what they had for Scream Break. Six Flags Magic Mountain is simply too big a park to have scare zones and monsters in every corner. It's just not possible to fill out your mazes and scare zones.
Fright Fest should be:
And THAT IS IT! 4 mazes is enough for the event.
So what do you think?